HAMILTON PUBLIC LIBRARY
ORAL HISTORY PROGRAMME
YOUTH ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
Notes Supplied by Bill Pope
On family farm at Tahuroa Road, Tauwhare until starting full time work in Hamilton at age 16, April 1944.
At age 12, started Hamilton Technical College, February 1940. At same time older sister started at same school and eldest started at Hamilton Girls High. (Sisters had started their secondary education with Correspondence School to save cost).
The three of us biked over 4 miles on metalled roads to catch Edwards Motors Bus at Eureka at 8.00am. The returning at 4.00pm. Our school day was thus about 7.30am to 5.00pm.
We helped with farm chores before and after school. We all got new bikes (our first) to go to school. These were a major expense for the family. I think they cost about 8 pound each. We contributed to the cost by doing extra farm work for neighbours.
Hamilton Bus Stop was outside what is now "Centreplace". Just North of the railway level crossing over Victoria Street.
At school, played little sport as I was not available outside school hours. The choices were limited to rugby, cricket, athletics, swimming. As I was forced to play the first two, I took an immediate and lifelong dislike to both. The school had no pool and we were marched to the Civic Pool at South end of Victoria Street for swimming. All boys had to participate in school cadets and we drilled and marched about in military style. We were instructed in target shooting and this was done at the Army Drill Hall in Knox Street. One Anzac Day I was part of the Ceremonial Guard at the Cenotaph.
The College Principal was Whampoa Fraser, who started the college in the mid 1920's (Fraser High School is named after him).
I passed School Certificate, University Entrance and Public Service Entrance at the end of 1942. Left Tech College August 1943.
There were two traffic bridges, Victoria and Fairfield and of course the rail bridge. The Victoria Street Post Office was new and the Garden Place Hill had just been removed. The back of Garden Place had a number of slit trenches and at the Victoria Street side there was the "Patriotic Hut" where volunteer women provided "cups of tea" etc. for servicemen.
Frankton was very busy and important as the biggest Rail Junction in the country, as well as locomotive and rolling stock repair and maintenance. The road between Hamilton and Frankton was concrete. The main road into Hamilton was via Naylor & Grey Streets.
Suburbs were mainly Hamilton East, Claudelands and Hospital area.
There were 4 cinemas in Victoria Street and one in Frankton.
Hamilton West Primary School was I think shifted from the South side of Hamilton Tech (now WTI) to out near the Hospital in early 1940's.
The Waikato Winter Show Buildings were in Ward Street, and part of these were a workshop for overhauling airplane engines.
For dances there were the Frankton Town Hall, Pearsons Hall in Hamilton East, and the Regent in Alexandra Street. Frankton Town Hall was also used for wrestling and boxing competitions and professional bouts. The Regent Cinema was also used for professional and amateur theatrical and concert events.
After leaving school, August 1943. I worked part time as "Chairman" for Registered Surveyor Mr S B Sims. My first job was repegging the site for the new water reservoir in Forest Lake Road. Mr Sims was engaged in subdividing new farmland and in the Wharepunga area east of Otorohanga and we spent some time down there. Had to leave Sims to make room for returning servicemen who previously worked for him.
April 1944 started as Cadet Draughtsman and Quantity Surveyor with D.C. Street Limited Building Contractors. The building scene was very busy during the war on work essential to the War Effort i.e.Te Rapa Air Force Base, Hockin Wing at Waikato Hospital etc. Over 20 Hamilton building firms were amalgamated as "Waikato Associated Builders" to carry out essential work materials were available only for essential work and payment for work done was made at pre-agreed rates for work in place.
I boarded at 72 Albert Street, Hamilton East and mostly walked or ran to work at 264 Victoria Street. Had a guts full of buses after nearly 4 years travelling to and from school and couldn't get bike tyres without a special permit.
"J Force" (Army)
I joined in July 1947 and discharged in November 1948 after serving in Occupation Force in Japan. Rejoined D.C. Street Limited.
Entertainment / Sports
About a dozen of us formed and were active in the "Achilles Canoe Club". We spent a lot of time on the river (based on Wellington Street beach) swimming and canoeing. We ran a series of races and went on overnight camping trips. Once we paddled right down to Waikato Heads and spent about a week there.
We played soccer with the Claudelands Rovers Club, our opponents being mainly teams from the coal mining villages West of Huntly Glen Afton, Rotowaro etc. Once we played host to a team from HMS Wakeful, British destroyer. In return we accepted their invitation and were their guests for a day on the Wakeful on exercises in the Hauraki Gulf. We travelled to and from Auckland overnight in goods train guardsvan. Also dabbed in waterpolo, indoor basketball, and for some time went to YMCA evenings in Bryce Street.
We would go to the cinema probably averaging once a week and always walked up Victoria Street on Friday nights - this was where you met people. Saturday night was dance night or party night. Partying was singing and drinking the cheapest you could get. If not beer then Rochdale cider or cheap sherry.